Gin-Basil Smash

April 23, 2010 (Day 83) — Gin-Basil Smash

I’m pretty sure around the time I originally started this little project, I made some sort of comment towards the effect of the resurgence in cocktailism — which I’m perfectly aware isn’t actually a word.

Hendrick’s Gin — which, as I’ve mentioned before, is Jenn and I’s No. 1 favorite gin, hands down — contact me via Twitter today, asking what my next Hendrick’s-based cocktail might be. Well, who am I to say no to the guy who runs the Twitter account of my favorite gin? So, I asked them if they had anything unusual to recommend. They pointed me in the direction of the Gin-Basil Smash.

One major player in the recent revival has been Le Lion in Hamburg, Germany. According to Jörg Meyer, the bartender that invented this drink, he was inspired by the whiskey smashes that he would occasionally drink while in New York. Invented in the summer of 2008, the Gin-Basil Smash quickly spread to other German bars, and eventually won “Best New Cocktail” the 2008 Tales of the Cocktail Spirits Awards. How flippin’ impressive is that?

You can see the full interview/demonstration on how to make this drink here. I seriously suggest watching it, if only to get the atmosphere of Le Lion. It also offers some good insight into the mind of a mixologist as they come up with a new drink, and how something so simple and ingenious and simple can take off to hook drinkers everywhere.

Plus, that just looks like one damn classy bar.


(Photo found here)

All the photos I’ve found of this drink, it has a very dreamy, cloudy green hue to it, garnished with one fancy little basil leaf on the top. So, that’s what I’ll be imitating. And if it looks totally jank, then we’ll just pretend it never happened and I’ll upload a photo of one of those that HAS turned out in the past! My camera malfunctioned or something! Right? Right! Let’s keep this on the QT.

But, before we continue to the recipe, I have something to admit. It’s almost as if my brain can’t stop me from lousing up a good, classy drink up with something juvenile. It’s something that I’m not very proud of. Something that… is difficult for me to admit. My first thought when I saw the title, coupled with the drink color? Incredible Hulk, in boozed version. Like… the Incredible Booze.

Artist’s Rendering

But, enough talk. Now is the time for action!

Gin-Basil Smash:

1 bunch basil

1/2 lemon

2/3 oz simple syrup

3 oz gin (Hendrick’s)

Stuff the basil into a cocktail shaker, followed by the lemon. Muddle the lemon and the basil, smashing the ingredients and squeezing the lemon.

Add simple syrup, mix. Meyer suggests tasting mixture on the back of your hand to make sure you’ve nailed the proper balance of sweet and sour.

Fill shaker with ice, top with gin. Shake vigorously until very cold — about 30 or so seconds. A good rule of thumb is to stop when the shaker begins to frost over and it’s almost too painfully cold to hold. Double-strain into a rocks glass filled with ice, squeezing every bit if liquid through a fine mesh strainer with a bar spoon.

Give the glass a stir and add more ice if necessary. Garnish with another basil leaf.

That is one killer green.

Now, usually Jenn and I grow our own basil during the spring and summer. It’s just a great way to save a small chunk of money. Plus, you can act like a total yuppie asshole when you tell your guests “We’ll just step out to the herb garden pick some fresh herbs.” Leave an LL Bean catalog out for added effect. Although, if you’re like me, you’re kind of a dick and pronounce it with a hard H. We haven’t planted anything yet, so tonight we went with some fresh basil picked up from the local supermarket. It’s just as good! It just costs more.

Taste: This is one killer drink. I completely understand how this won Best New Cocktail in NOLA. I mean, this is essentially nothing but gin. You don’t much else mixed with it. But man, that is one smooth mix of sweet and sour. I love basil in gin-based drinks, so this only makes sense. Congrats, Le Lion. This one that is making it into regular rotation.


— Mark


  1. You had me at Hendrick’s Gin!!

  2. Glad to have got your attention with this one. It’s a staple in the HQ here too! We’re working on another concoction now, maybe for next Friday…! will tweet it over to you!

  3. Good to read that you like our Smash! If you find real fresh red basil – you should give this a try … And do not tell your guests what it is. They know the “smell” – but the color to it is uncommon.


    Joerg Meyer • Le Lion – Bar de Paris • Hamburg

    p.s. Do you know this Video from Jay? MY English is a little bit bad, but hopefully you enjoy it as well

  4. Reblogged this on Cocktails, 365 and commented:

    A classic that still remains one of our most-read cocktails!


  1. […] BASIL SMASH!!!!! April 20105 comments 4 […]

  2. […] then just to garnish them with the herb).  But this one, the Basil Gin Smash, that I found over on Cocktails 365 uses the basil front and center…and uses it very well I might […]

  3. […] guys. I recruited the help of this post at Cocktails, 365. They’ve got an excellent backstory about the cocktail and a lot of […]

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